After the Delaware Museum of Natural History closed in 2020, people in and around Delaware have been awaiting the re-opening. All of the exhibits—many in place since 1972—were removed, and the walls were taken down to the studs. Installation of new exhibits began at the end of 2021, and the grand opening of the new and improved museum is finally here.
“We’ve completely shed that dusty, old museum perception. The Delaware Museum of Nature and Science is dynamic, engaging, interactive, relevant, and modern,” Executive Director Halsey Spruance says. “Our focus is on what we know about nature and science, why it matters to us, and what we can do to protect the environment. There’s a huge emphasis on how we are all connected and how our actions matter.”
The museum’s grand opening weekend kicked off with a member-only preview, sponsored by M&T Bank/Wilmington Trust. This exclusive preview included special tours that dove into the renovation process and new exhibits. Admission was free, but pre-registration for timed tickets was requested. The preview events were Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and were open to museum members as well as members of the following partnering museums:
Delaware Art Museum
Hagley Museum & Library
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
On Monday, May 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., The Delaware Museum of Nature and Science opened to the public for the first time. Timed tickets are available here. The museum is open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $12.95 for ages three and up, $3.95 for toddlers ages one to two and free for infants. There’s a $1 discount for those who purchase tickets online in advance. Admission is always free for members, and it’s also free for the first year for members at one of the previously listed partnering museums.
Regional Journey Gallery: Stroll across a giant floor map of the state and explore deciduous and mixed forests, the Bald Cypress Swamp, a saltmarsh, dunes, and the Delaware Bay. Designated areas such as the Fair Play Foundation Field Station and the DuPont Research Headquarters provide an opportunity to learn what is happening in our region and beyond.
Alison K. Bradford Global Journey Gallery: A giant floor map of the world occupies the center of this gallery, surrounded by three land-based ecosystems, including a tropical rainforest, Arctic tundra and African savanna, along with three different ocean environments (shallow, mid-water and deep). The ecosystems demonstrate nature’s diversity, the interdependency of life and how humans play the biggest role in change.
Ellice & Rosa McDonald Foundation PaleoZone: Meet the creatures that lived in the Mid-Atlantic during the Cretaceous Period. Skeletons of the fearsome Dryptosaurus dinosaur, the flying “bat lizard” Nyctosaur, and the aquatic giant Mosasaur are joined by smaller Cretaceous specimens.
Other new exhibit spaces: The Tree of Life in the atrium will include a visual interpretation of the Tree of Life, depicting the evolution of organisms over billions of years and the relationships between them in increasingly diverse branches. Adjacent to the Atrium, the Bill & Denise Spence Discovery Gallery offers rotating, hands-on exhibits. Opening exhibits include Delaware Mineralogical Society, First State Robotics and the University of Delaware, in addition to the museum’s Collections & Research Division.
New amenities: The Rest, Relax, Recharge café offers prepackaged sandwiches, salads and snacks from Jamestown Catering, along with coffee, water and other beverages. The Delaware Community Foundation Respite Room is a dedicated, calming space for visitors with sensory challenges and developmental disorders to take a break, as well as a quiet and private option for nursing parents.
In addition to the new galleries and public spaces, projects included lighting and sound systems, the installation of a fire alarm and fire suppression system, new paving, HVAC system, refreshed meeting and event and temporary exhibit spaces and renovated restrooms.